Hurricane Felicia threatens Hawaii

Friday, August 7, 2009

Residents in Hawaii are currently tracking the progress of Hurricane Felicia, once a Category 4 storm on the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Scale, that is threatening to affect the state later in its lifetime.

Satellite image of Felicia on August 6
Image: NRL.

Felicia formed as a tropical depression on August 3 and quickly intensified to tropical storm status. National Hurricane Center forecasters say the storm became a hurricane early on August 4. The hurricane eventually attained major hurricane status – Category 3 or higher – becoming the most intense Eastern Pacific storm since 2006's Hurricane Daniel.

As of 8 a.m. PDT August 7 (1500 UTC August 7), Hurricane Felicia is located within 10 nautical miles of 17.9°N 135.6°W, about 1280 mi (2060 km) east of Hilo. Maximum sustained winds are near 85 knots (100 mph, 160 km/h), with stronger gusts. Forecasters estimate the storm's minimum barometric pressure at 973 millibars.

Meanwhile, nearby former Tropical Storm Enrique has weakened to a tropical depression, and is not expected to pose a threat to land.

NHC forecasters say Hurricane Felicia is expected to move towards Hawaii, possibly impacting the islands next week. The American Red Cross reported that they were deploying a disaster recovery team to the area, and officials have been advising residents of the storm. According to Hawaii County mayor Billy Kenoi, "Residents need to have a plan, need to know where the nearest shelter is and should always be prepared in hurricane season. County, State and Federal officials will be closely monitoring Hurricane Felicia, and will provide regular updates for the public."

The state's last significant hurricane, Iniki of 1992, caused six deaths and inflicted billions of dollars in damage. More recently, Flossie in August 2007 brushed the big island of Hawaii with increased rainfall, high surf, and gusty winds.

Though Hurricane Felicia is not an immediate danger to the Hawaiian islands, interests in the area are urged to track the storm's progress over coming days and to review preparation plans.


5-day forecast track map
Image: NHC.